Thursday, November 18, 2010
A Little known Fact
Cliff Claven was my hero. Remember Cliffy? The Mailman on the '80's show Cheers? Cliff was the fountain of useless trivia. Each of Cliff's informational nuggets usually started with him saying in his thick Boston accent, "It's a little known fact..." Usually followed by something completely bizarre. I love trivia as much as Cliffy, so I thought I'd give you a whole bunch of little known facts about hay.
I did another little painting today, this one of hay rolls in a field I saw back in July. It's at the top of the page. It's not that I love hay, heck, I can't even digest it, but it makes for a neat painting. A little while ago, I did a painting showing an old fashioned hay wagon being pulled by two white horses from the 1890's. The farmer was in a vest and tie. Can you imagine wearing a wool suit when you're out haying in the hot July sun? Yeah, they used to do that back in the day. They also used to give babies "Teething Droplets" that had morphine in it! But I digress...
These days when we have instant weather reports on our cell phones, or in-between Storm Stories on the Weather Channel, we forget that once upon a time farmers had to forecast the weather themselves. Having a stretch of clear, dry weather was important for haying. The hay needs to dry completely before it's stored in the barn. Decomposing plant matter makes heat, and enough wet hay can get hot enough to start a fire. Many a barn went up in smoke because the hay wasn't quite dry, so great care was needed in haying. So the farmer would look for weather clues in the skies.
Here on the coast of Maine, the wind direction can tell you a lot. If the wind comes from the Northwest, we have dry weather. If it comes from Northeast, we're in for rain. Southwest means probable thunderstorms, and Southeast is muggy. So, farmers had weather vanes on the roof of their barns to let them know which way the wind was blowing. Once they cut the hay, it was left in the field to dry for a day or two. That process was called "making" hay. It was always better to do that during sunny days. So that's where we get the phrase, "Make hay while the sun shines." Yeah, it's a little known fact. Thanks Cliff!